They’re big and bright yellow. You’d think this would make it easy for drivers to avoid collisions with school buses. Unfortunately, crashes involving school buses and motor vehicles are more common than you might think. Over 1,100 accidents were reported involving motor vehicles and school buses from 2007 to 2016.
These collisions can be serious. Nearly 1,300 fatalities were reported in this time, with occupants of motor vehicles losing their lives 70 percent of the time. While it is possible for school bus riders to become injured, this happens far less often.
While school bus drivers must be careful, especially while transporting children, motor vehicle drivers must take extra care around school buses for the safety of themselves and others on the road.
Right in our own backyard
School bus-related crashes happen anywhere, including Maryland. On the morning of May 22, a school bus struck a motor vehicle while transporting students to school. The impact sent the drivers of the car and school bus to the hospital. On the bright side, the four children on bus at the time of the accident were unharmed.
School bus safety is the law
Though this accident wasn’t fatal, collisions between school buses and motor vehicles are scary for all parties involved. As a motor vehicle driver, there are laws you must follow that help ensure the safety of yourself and school bus riders alike. Did you know that:
- Maryland law says that drivers traveling in either direction on two lane or multi-lane roads without a physical median must stop and remain stopped when they see a school bus flash its red lights. You are required to remain stopped until the school bus driver turns off the flashing red lights.
- If you are driving in the opposite direction of a school bus on a multi-lane road with a barrier, you aren’t required to stop but should still watch for children entering or exiting the school bus.
- You can tell when a school bus is preparing to stop because the bus driver will turn on their flashing yellow lights 100 to 300 feet before coming to a complete stop. Keep in mind that 300 yards is the length of a football field, leaving you with ample time for you to slow down.
- Drivers who fail to stop for a school bus with its flashing red lights on could face a fine between $250 and $570. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, it’s best not to try to pass a school bus with its flashing red lights on.
It’s that time of year again
Now that we’re nearing September, school buses will be out in droves again. This makes for a great opportunity for you to brush up on your school safety. Driving safely around school buses helps you from receiving a traffic ticket or worse, being involved in a crash with a school bus. When you’re following behind a school bus this year, be sure to keep an eye out for any flashing lights.